Golden Ring, Russia Golden Ring aboard Volga Dream

Essential Golden Ring

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

A sample private historical and cultural tour of the Golden Ring in Russia.  For custom luxury travel and tours to Russia, please contact one of our travel experts.

Download a PDF itinerary here

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$12,150 per person, based on two guests traveling together.  Please contact Exeter International for specific pricing and availability. 

Day 1
Arrival | Moscow

Arrival into Moscow where your Exeter International driver who will be waiting for you just outside of Customs after you pick up your luggage. Please look for a sign with your name or Exeter International on it. Please note this flight is not included in program cost.

You will be transferred to your hotel. After some time to rest, our guide will meet you near the concierge desk in the lobby, for an overview walking tour of the neighborhood, including Red Square! Be sure not to miss the newly rebuilt church and Imperial Gates at the south end of Red Square- they were both destroyed under Stalin and only recently have been rebuilt in their original splendor. Your guide will also show you the stunning St. Basil’s Cathedral. This magnificent church-museum was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible was completed in 1561.

Later, you may want to experience the fascinating interiors of the Moscow Metro stations, ornately decorated with beautiful paintings, carvings and chandeliers. The metro stations were constructed between 1930 and 1960 and are considered underground palaces, featuring exquisite frescoes, statues, mosaics and stained glass, featuring designs from some of Russia’s most prominent architects. Each station has its own special theme- our favorite is Teatralnaya. Today this massive public transportation system is one of the largest in the world, carrying over 9 million passengers per day (twice as many as London or Paris!). Your guide will be delighted to show you as many stations as you like.

Afterward, you will walk over to the brand new Zaryadye park for sweeping views of the Red Square and St. Basil Cathedral. One of Moscow’s newest sights is the futuristic Zaryadye Park. With 32 acres of recreation space right in the very centre of the city, the park is located steps from Red Square. Designed by Diller, Scofido & Renfro, architects who created the New York Highline, the concept is described as ‘wild urban’ – with the park merging historical streets with nature. For many years the area was the site of the largest hotel in the world (the Hotel Rossiya) and the area has been empty since the hotel was demolished over a decade ago.

Note: All services today are on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services: Arrival transfer (one included); Guide (6 Hours)

Hotel: Four Seasons Moscow

Day 2
Moscow - Suzdal | Moscow - Suzdal

Meet your driver and guide in the hotel lobby. You will then be transferred to the train station to catch high- speed train to Vladimir. Your guide will travel with you. Train tickets are included in your program cost.

You will leave Moscow behind and depart to the magnificent cities of the “Golden Ring”- the “Mesopotamia” of Russian civilization.

Upon arrival in Vladimir you will meet your driver for a tour of this charming city. Tucked into a green valley and surrounded by forests and lakes, Vladimir is said to be the father of Russian cities. Founded in 1108 by Vladimir Monomakh, Prince of Kiev, the city quickly became the capital of the principality. Vladimir reached its peak in the latter half of the 12th century under Prince Andrew Bogolubsky before the Mongol invasions quickly destroyed the city during the 13th century when it was pillaged twice by the hoard of invaders. After its destruction the capital of the principality was moved to a small settlement called Moscow some 180 km away. Vladimir is the perfect location to view early Russian architecture and has become a popular tourist destination along the Golden Ring. One of the most famous sites in the city is the Holy Assumption Cathedral, built in 1160 and remains one of the few churches that survived the fires of the Mongol invasion. Here you will notice a combination of gothic and neoclassical influences, this cathedral was ground breaking for its time and used as a model for many future cathedrals.

Afterwards, a driver will take you to the nearby town of Suzdal where you will check into your hotel.

Tonight, a special dinner has been arranged in a private home in Suzdal- a simple, but traditional Russian meal of natural foods from the dacha garden. Dinner consists of three courses, mineral water, coffee and tea.

Exeter Services: Train Station transfer (Moscow); Vehicle Driver & Guide (Golden Ring)

Hotel: Pushkarskaya Sloboda

Day 3
Suzdal | Suzdal

Today enjoy the provincial life in Suzdal. More than any other city in the “Golden Ring,” Suzdal will show you a pastoral view of provincial life. Inside the Suzdal Kremlin, you can see the Church of St. Nicholas- a glorious example of Russian wooden architecture and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin. This white-stone cathedral dates from the beginning of the 13th century.

Today you may also visit the Museum of Wooden and Peasant Architecture. Founded in 1960, this open-air museum features outstanding examples of Russian country architecture. You will find windmills, a church and several wooden houses – all from different villages in the Vladimir region.

There were once fifteen monasteries and convents in Suzdal, but today only five survive. You may visit any you wish. The most interesting is definitely the Spaso-Yevfimieyev Monastery, whose buildings house a museum. Another interesting visit is the Convent of the Intercession, widely known as a place of lifetime exile for women of aristocratic birth.

If you are interested, end the day with a sampling of homemade Russian mead at the Suzdal Mead Factory. Sold across Russia in small brown bottles, this local factory makes a wide variety of this medieval drink. You may choose to sample as many as you like, all spiced with different flavors, including hops, juniper, pepper and even horseradish.

Today enjoy the provincial life in Suzdal. More than any other city in the “Golden Ring,” Suzdal will show you a pastoral view of provincial life. Inside the Suzdal Kremlin, you can see the Church of St. Nicholas- a glorious example of Russian wooden architecture and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin. This white-stone cathedral dates from the beginning of the 13th century.

Today you may also visit the Museum of Wooden and Peasant Architecture. Founded in 1960, this open-air museum features outstanding examples of Russian country architecture. You will find windmills, a church and several wooden houses – all from different villages in the Vladimir region.

There were once fifteen monasteries and convents in Suzdal, but today only five survive. You may visit any you wish. The most interesting is definitely the Spaso-Yevfimieyev Monastery, whose buildings house a museum. Another interesting visit is the Convent of the Intercession, widely known as a place of lifetime exile for women of aristocratic birth.

If you are interested, end the day with a sampling of homemade Russian mead at the Suzdal Mead Factory. Sold across Russia in small brown bottles, this local factory makes a wide variety of this medieval drink. You may choose to sample as many as you like, all spiced with different flavors, including hops, juniper, pepper and even horseradish.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Pushkarskaya Sloboda

Vehicle, Driver & Guide Pushkarskaya Sloboda

Day 4
Suzdal to Plyos | Suzdal to Plyos

Today continue your journey to Russia’s heartland with a visit to the artist colony of Plyos, located two to three hours by car from Suzdal. This charming village is located on the Volga River and features 19th century cottages and a serene atmosphere.

For the next two nights, you will be staying in one of the most unique hotels in Russia. Your accommodation will be a private, historic home in the village with the full services of a hotel (Gromov Mansion). Breakfast will be brought into your home in the morning, so you can enjoy the day at a leisurely pace and explore on foot the entire village, all just steps from your “home.” Staying in the guesthouse is like taking a step back in time, to a simpler Russia.

This evening you will have drinks at around 6:30PM followed by Candlelit dinner in Novozhilov Mansion in company with Sergey V. Shevtsov and a notable local resident.

Special Note: Your timing, while traveling in the Golden Ring is very fluid. Your guide will discuss the times for departure and touring on a daily basis.

Today continue your journey to Russia’s heartland with a visit to the artist colony of Plyos, located two to three hours by car from Suzdal. This charming village is located on the Volga River and features 19th century cottages and a serene atmosphere.

For the next two nights, you will be staying in one of the most unique hotels in Russia. Your accommodation will be a private, historic home in the village with the full services of a hotel (Gromov Mansion). Breakfast will be brought into your home in the morning, so you can enjoy the day at a leisurely pace and explore on foot the entire village, all just steps from your “home.” Staying in the guesthouse is like taking a step back in time, to a simpler Russia.

This evening you will have drinks at around 6:30PM followed by Candlelit dinner in Novozhilov Mansion in company with Sergey V. Shevtsov and a notable local resident.

Special Note: Your timing, while traveling in the Golden Ring is very fluid. Your guide will discuss the times for departure and touring on a daily basis.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8-10 hours)

Hotel: Gromov Mansion

Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8-10 hours) Gromov Mansion

Day 5
Plyos | Plyos

Today explore Plyos with your guide.

Begin today with breakfast for two in the Gromov Mansion’s dining-room followed by a brief visit to the Plyos Landscape Museum, boasting a nice collection of paintings (500 meters along the Riverfront past the main landing stage for the cruising ships).

Later stroll along the historic houses of the Hidden Russia Wooden Architecture Museum (preserved by the host family), learning about the geography and raison d'être of Plyos.

Visit a local jeweler’s house and workshop.

Enjoy lunch in the Villa Fortecia Hotel on the Riverfront (in a private dining room). Villa Fortecia Hotel is located next to the Milovka Ski Resort and Milovka Estate (where Prime Minister Medvedev often takes residence).

Afterward, visit the plateau of Sobornaya Gorá (Cathedral Hill) and Viewpoint Number One (to the North- West), Viewpoint Number Two (to the East), traces of the fortress, Uspensky Sobór (Assumption Cathedral, 1690), the former Town Hall (now Historical Museum).

Next you will see Voskresenskaya Gorá (Resurrection Hill), which provides the best views of the Market Square and of the Resurrection Cathedral (1817). Built to celebrate the victory over Napoleon (in 1812-1815) it has recently been restored by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Later explore the Market Square and walk along Yurievskaya (St George Street) with historic dachas. Visit a local artist or a Soviet porcelain collector.

Spend the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.

Dinner will take place in the historic Krylov House (1870s) and will be focused on the Plyossian specialties such as smoked bream. (All meals in the host houses will be prepared by the family personal chef Anatoly and served by their butler Yury).

Important Notes from the host family in Plyos:

  • There is a tradition to plan packed, intensive schedules, especially for VIP visitors. However, in reality we will be ready to secure much more spare time, just for enjoying this famous sweet and slow and even lazy Russian provincial way of life.

  • All events, movements and pauses will be carefully tuned up in accordance with weather conditions and with the last-minute wishes of the Guest.

  • Sergey Shevtsov will be with Guest in Plyos all the time. He lives in Plyos permanently and represents the host family there.

  • Several additional visits to local artists, jewelers, historians, and architects may be arranged.

  • Guests can also book the Russian Banya Experience, sauna, massages and spa treatments at our Villa

    Fortecia Hotel spa (please book in advance).

  • We do not recommend long tours in the museums: 15 minutes is enough for Levitan House, 30 minutes - for the Landscape Museum.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8-10 hours)

Hotel: Gromov Mansion

Day 6
Plyos to Yaroslavl | Pylos to Yaroslavl

Start today with breakfast for two in the club lounge of the Café Sophie Kuvshinnikova on the Riverfront. You will be served everything from eggs benedict to heavenly cottage cheese fritters. And, of course, our traditional sweets to enjoy with your coffee. Levitan's favorite cookies and Plyossian version of cheesecake (Cooleyka) must be tried!

After breakfast stroll along the Riverfront to the House-Museum of Isaac Levitan, Russia’s most revered landscape painter.

Next visit the third hill of central Plyos — Levitan Hill. From there you will see the symbol of Plyos, the Over Eternal Peace wooden church.

Afterward say farewell to Plyos and continue your journey with a drive to the quaint town of Kostroma. Don’t miss the Ipatiev Monastery, which served as a refuge for Russian nobility during the Tatar invasions.

You will then arrive in the town of Yaroslavl. Famous for its ornate frescoes and ornamentation, you will understand why some call Yaroslavl the “Florence of Russia.”

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: SK Royal

Day 7
Yaroslavl | Yaroslavl

Today your guide will take you on a walk through this charming town situated at the confluence of the Volga and Kotorosl rivers. Your guide will take you to visit the 17th Century Spassky Monastery, a highlight of the city, dating from the 12th century.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: SK Royal

Day 8
Yaroslavl to Moscow via Rostov | Yaroslavl to Moscow via Rostov

Depart Yaroslavl for your journey back to Moscow. Today you will stop in the ancient fairy tale town of Rostov.

With its classic Russian kremlin (fortress), abundant gold domes and silver spires, Rostov’s beauty dazzles its visitors. Here you will see exquisite enamel work which is a trademark of the city. The small cafes in this town make a great break for lunch.

Late this afternoon you will arrive in Moscow and have an overnight at the brand new Four Seasons, located right in the heart of the city with views of Red Square and the Kremlin.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Hotel: Four Seasons Moscow

Day 9
Moscow | Moscow

Today you will visit the grand Christ the Holy Redeemer Cathedral, which towers over historic Moscow. The cathedral was demolished under Stalin’s reign for a planned Lenin skyscraper, but eventually became an enormous outdoor swimming pool after construction failed repeatedly. After the fall of Communism, it was decided to reconstruct the cathedral and so Christ the Holy Redeemer was completely rebuilt by Mayor Luzhkov of Moscow in 2001- at the budget of over 350 million dollars! It is a beautiful cathedral and it now stands as it did at the turn of the 20th Century.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

After touring the cathedral, a guide from the cathedral will join you for a private visit to the dome of the church. After ascending to the top via elevator, you will have the opportunity to view the city of Moscow at 360 degrees, from all four sides of the dome. Standing at 300 feet above the city, the dome provides a fantastic view of the city’s most significant sites including the Kremlin, St. Basil’s, Pushkin Museum, Red October Chocolate Factory and the Moskva River. Turn a corner and you are awarded with views of several of the Seven Sisters buildings. You may even witness the ringing of the bells in the Bell towers located just above your head! It's the ultimate Moscow city tour from the top of the highest peak of central Moscow.

Later stroll with the guide across the bridge to the other side of the river where you will walk through the Graveyard of Fallen Monuments – a collection of some of the sculptures removed from Moscow after the fall of the Soviet era.

Next your guide will take you to the New Tretyakov Gallery, an annex of the Tretyakov Gallery. This huge museum is dedicated to Russian art from the early 1900’s to the present. You will find that most paintings are from the Socialist Realism movement. You may also want to visit the Modernist paintings, which include pictures by many previously outlawed artists.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Today you will be invited backstage for an exclusive and rare tour of the Historic Stage of the Bolshoi Theatre.

This tour is by appointment only and cannot be moved to another time or day.

Exeter Services:  Guide

Hotel: Four Seasons Moscow

Day 10
Departure | Moscow

This morning your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby to continue your exploration of Moscow. You will have an appointment to visit the famed Armory Museum, including its vast collection of Imperial Russian artwork. Here you’ll see the Kremlin’s world-famous collection of Imperial Faberge Easter Eggs. Also, in the Armory are many of the most important Imperial thrones and crowns, including the most historic, the Cap of Monomachus.

We have made special arrangements to take you into the Diamond Vaults inside the Kremlin. You will see Catherine the Great’s scepter with its famous Orlov Diamond and one of the largest collections of diamonds and gem stones in the world!

Later today you will be transferred to the airport to catch your onward. Please note this flight is not included in program cost.

Exeter Services:  Guide; Departure Transfer

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